between the stringer lights
Drove down to Coney Island’s Steeple Chase Park. It had a long history and to my surprise it was empty. The attendant said it was the last day before it would permanently close. He added, the new owner will tear it down and replace it with apartment buildings. Hearing the sounds as I walked across the deck, I remembered the crowd in the hall. It was my thirteenth birthday and my older brother told me to watch when the girls walk out of the funhouse and pass the clown. He would turn on a fan out of the floor’s grating pushing their loose dress up. A young couple came out. Brother said look, look. The girl’s dress flew up and the crowd howled. She was not wearing underwear. Suddenly, what sounded like three weird sisters cackling were crickets in a pile of dead leaves that brought me back. Later I read that the new owner was Fred Trump, the father of the Donald.
What a terrific haiku, Bob!
The middle of summer and cicada's screaming is an experience I can really relate to. Happy memories of childhood holidays! But this is brutally juxtaposed with the bare central fact – the amusement park is permanently closed. I can hear the wail of disappointed children in that final cicada roar. But of course now the cicadas get to enjoy the park uninterrupted, so maybe the roar is one of delight. In both cases the poem is great!
One piece of advice I was given by a haiku master (thank you P.O.), and which greatly improved my own writing, was to stop using definite articles. My early haiku were full of redundant "the"s and I was delighted to discover removing them actually increased their poetry by allowing more ambiguity and interpretation. I think this verse would lose nothing if the first "the" was omitted. Then, for instance "closed-up" would still refer to the amusement park but also more readily allude to the cicada shell, from which the cicada breaks out. This opens my mind to contemplate the image of maturing cicadas, leaving the memory of their smaller-selves clinging to the tree-trunk. A cycle of rebirth and growth. The impossibility of returning to our earlier self. The hope of a reopening perhaps next year!
Many thanks again for sharing this lovely poem Bob.
Thanks Alan! I just replied and put a link to your illuminating blog post, but I guess URLs won't show up here without moderator approval. Anyone curious will find the search time to find your post worthwhile! I also appreciated your haiku (which also rewards some research).
Related, one of my favorites, however famous (Ueda translation):
A search for "The definite and indefinite article – how a house passes along the train of haiku" should bring it up hopefully. :-)
I stayed with a former NHP colleague who had to go back to her homeland, against her wishes, she loved Bristol and surrounding parts of the South West of England. So she took me around a few places in Kobe and Osaka, and Sumadera temple, and told me about the samurai legend if you heard those cicadas in September. :-)
Yes, Basho's cicada hokku is one of my favorites too, and having lived in Queensland, Australia, where I first learned about haiku, I could certainly relate to it! :-)
I've put the Area 17 link about articles in my name id. :-)